This has to be one of my favourite fishing photos from last year; my friend Pete and his wife Brooklyn, the only female member of our Church fishing club, playing a fish on the pole. Their faces are a picture, and it's one of those photos that's crying out to end up as a "caption contest". When we recently placed an order for a whole batch of hoodies from UK Christian Anglers (www.christiananglers.co.uk ), most were in the standard greens and drab olive colours beloved of anglers, but Brooklyn had other ideas and now sports the only fuchsia pink Christian Anglers hoody in Britain!
All of which, via a circuitous route, takes us to South Carolina. In 2013 I caught my first ever fish in the USA, a skate from the sea in Charleston and quickly followed it up with a flounder. Fishing from a dock in the blazing "deep South" heat, it was a day to remember, and a memory that I still treasure.
My guide for the day was Susan Dalton, who I'd met through a church contact, a lady angler of considerable expertise who, along with her sister, Be Be (she's probably got a proper name, but everyone calls her "Be Be") run an organisation called "Angling Women." With sponsorship tie ups and support from fishing giants Berkley, Pflueger and Pure Fishing, they work predominantly with women and children and have developed an extensive range of programs designed to introduce newcomers to angling.
Although they offer a one to one guiding service, much of their work is group based, perhaps an acknowledgement of the fact that women are often more socially adept than us males! They run basic introductory courses for groups of women, one-off "taster" events and even birthday parties which are, predictably, popular with children but also with adults. They are also very committed to working with children (boys as well as girls), and in addition to the beginners courses and parties regularly find themselves invited into schools. Their approach is holistic, concentrating not only on fishing techniques and skills, but also on the whole aquatic environment and even uses art and craft in addition to time on the dock or shore or in the boat.
Based in the Mount Pleasant area of Charleston, Be Be and Susan and their staff should be numbered among fishing's pantheon of "unsung heroes" for their commitment to drawing newcomers into the delights of angling. Fishing isn't just for the boys, and don't take my word for it, or even that of the Angling Women guides or Pete's wife Brooklyn ..... just Google "Britain's record salmon" and you'll discover that it was caught in 1922 by a certain Georgina Ballentine, a feat that for almost a Century has not been bettered by any of us chaps.
Angling Women are on Facebook and at www.anglingwomen.com